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article imageSilicon Valley unites to defend Samsung against Apple patent case

By James Walker     Jul 21, 2015 in Technology
Several Silicon Valley technology companies have stepped up to help Samsung win its ongoing patent dispute with Apple. The group has filed a "friend of the court" letter to help argue Samsung's case. Apple claims that it infringed on multiple patents.
The lawsuit has been ongoing since 2011 and has swung between Apple and Samsung several times. Both companies appeal rulings against themselves, leading to the case dragging on for years.
Apple originally accused Samsung of using some of the patented features of the iPhone on its own devices without proper attribution. These included trivial design aspects which most users would now expect to find on any phone, including rounded-off edges, multi-touch gestures and tap-to-zoom. Samsung has long argued that these are insignificant enough that any manufacturer should be able to include them in new devices.
Now, Samsung seems to have found some new allies in the form of companies including Google, Facebook, Dell, HP and others, as Inside Sources reports. A "friend of the court" filing on July 1 has revealed that it isn't just Samsung that finds Apple's argument to be short-sighted and stifling to innovation, as other key players in the technology world have stepped up to get their voices heard too.
Apple has already hit back at the briefing, taking particular aim at Google for its "strong interest" in the case as the creator of the Android operating system used by the Samsung phones in question. Apple has requested that the opinion of Google be discounted in the trial, saying it "is not an impartial 'friend of the court,' and should not be permitted to expand Samsung's word limit under the guise of an amicus brief."
The most recent ruling in the case says that Samsung should pay Apple damages totalling $548 million, roughly the amount of profit Samsung made from selling the Galaxy smartphones that allegedly infringe Apple's patents.
Inside Sources reports that the Silicon Valley group's letter says of this decision: "If allowed to stand, that decision will lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies, including, [the signatories of the briefing], who spend billions of dollars annually on research and development for complex technologies and their components."
It continues to take fire at the decision to make Samsung turn over its profits, saying: "Under the panel's reasoning, the manufacturer of a smart television containing a component that infringed any single design patent could be required to pay in damages its total profit on the entire television, no matter how insignificant the design of the infringing feature was to the manufacturer's profit or to consumer demand."
The rest of the briefing continues to make examples of how the insignificance of the features in question mean that the end user most likely did not choose either device based on them and that, in any case, they did not comprise the bulk of Samsung's profit made from selling its smartphones.
As such, the briefing argues that Samsung should not be made to pay the full amount of profit that it made but rather just the profit it made from using those features, an amount which will be substantially lower than what it currently owes. It makes for a convincing appeal against Apple from a consumer's point of view but could still fail to make a difference if the jury decides to uphold Apple's patents again.
In the original case, Samsung was ordered to pay Apple damages of $1.05 billion after being found guilty of infringing on six of seven Apple patents. These included trivial concerns including a patent on the shape of the app icons on the iPhone's home-screen.
The court later wiped $382 million off what Samsung owed after acknowledging that this and other patents — such as the rounded edges of the iPhone's design — came under "trade dress". After an appeal from Samsung in May, the case now stands with the Korean technology giant owing $548 million in patent infringement damages to Apple.
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